Case Study: Three Steps to a Successful Media Quality Strategy

The key to implementing a successful media quality strategy is demanding a higher standard, says Bobby Bailey, Director of Analytics, Integral Ad Science.


Implementing a media quality strategy can be intimidating. There are multiple vendors, multiple players in the media buying process, and a ton of data to analyze to be successful. As the director of analytics at Integral Ad Science, it’s my job to help clients through the process of working media quality data like viewability, fraud, and brand safety into their workflow to gain actionable insights.

In my experience, success in this endeavor boils down to a three-step process: understanding bobbyperformance, identifying areas for improvement, and taking corrective action during the campaign’s flight.

Recently, a major auto brand that is a client of Integral’s adopted media quality solely on the understanding that impressions have different value, and that it had paid for ads it no longer deemed valuable. Their initial goal with media quality revolved around the simple premise that each impression purchased should convey their message to the intended audience, which in turn maximizes the chances of seeing a desired return. As their limited experience with media quality left them in a void, evaluating media-quality performance for the first time would be significantly different from evaluating it thereafter.

Through the three-step process, the brand was able to gain meaningful intelligence to help improve their media buying.

Step 1: Understand Performance

First things first: An open dialogue with the client helped determine which metrics hold the most weight in helping the brand achieve their media quality goals. Viewability and fraud rate allowed the brand to gauge whether their intended audience saw the ad, and measures such as brand safety, ad clutter, and ad collision helped determine if the environment of the ad is conducive to appropriately communicating the brand’s message. Peripheral metrics such as heat maps and hover rates were deemed irrelevant simply because the vast majority of users do not point their mouse at what they read.

Once the brand had a strong understanding of which metrics impact performance, it was able to develop performance targets based on Integral’s overall industry and auto vertical benchmarks.

Step 2: Identify Areas for Improvement

Once the bar was set, Integral worked with the brand to investigate and target areas for improvement for viewability and fraud. Monitoring the campaign for trends over the first few weeks provided benchmark comparisons that can tell the story of how the campaign is truly performing. After three weeks, once publishers reached significant volume, abnormalities were uncovered and there was the realization of a fraud problem.

While looking into individual partner performances for fraud, it was discovered that one partner was the major culprit. This partner’s fraud steadily rose from 18 percent in the first week to 30 percent in the fourth week, while other partners hovered in the 5-10 percent range.

Step 3: Take Action

Understanding is important, but ultimately the brand needed to use the data to push for better performance from its partner operating with high levels of fraud. A performance improvement plan was delivered to the partner that provided specific actions on how to effectively improve media quality.

Additionally, the brand alerted each partner it was being evaluated for fraud levels for the duration of the campaign. The following week, it became apparent that the partners in fact had some control over the levels of fraud served to advertisers. Nearly all of the 5-10 percent fraud partners dropped into the 2-5 percent range. The major culprit with 30 percent fraud showed an improvement but the change spanned the following three weeks and then leveled off at 10-12 percent. Although the brand continued to work with the culprit to improved fraud levels, performance did not get better, and unfortunately after three weeks of gradual increasing fraud into the 15 percent range, the partner was notified that they would not be renewed for 2016. The very next week, fraud levels jumped back to the 30 percent range. The brand felt more than justified that the partner shouldn’t be on any future campaigns.

In the brand’s first jump into media quality, they gained a new level of understanding and were able to support the original goal of maximizing opportunities to influence its target audience.

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